New York team competes in new National Kayak Fishing League

A kayak bass fishing team puts upstate New York on the map in a new national league.

“When you’re tournament fishing, time is running out,” explained Bryan Nunziato, a pro angler with the new Empire New York team.

For him, the morning begins with preparation work, including the choice of rods, the pre-hooking of the baits and the checking of the equipment.

Nunziato and the rest of Empire New York are in the midst of a busy tournament season. The team competes in the new National Kayak Fishing League (KFL).

On a recent training day, he was joined by another teammate, Trisha Angelini-Luciano. This is an important time for teammates to prepare for game day.

What do you want to know

  • Local kayak bass fishing team represents the state
  • New National League Helps Bring Money to New York
  • Team play uses the modern “catch, shoot, release” method

The KFL uses “catch, photo, release” tournament play, which means anglers photograph their catches and submit them electronically while spectators and judges watch via livestream. Anglers can only submit bass that are at least 14 inches long.

Nunziato and Angelini-Luciano agree the best thing about the new league is working together as a team.

“It’s great because to be considered for [the team], it’s a lesson in humility,” explained Angelini-Luciano. “There are a lot of anglers here and a lot of kayak bass anglers. I hope I can contribute.

“It’s a fun experience,” Nunziato said. “I really like it. I really like the team dynamic. Everyone is just working together towards a common goal.”

Competitive kayak fishing brings in millions of dollars to New York State, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. This fact especially helps small business owners like Julian Stalled, owner of The Kayak Shack, located near Lake Saratoga.

“[It brings in] any additional activity like off-site rentals,” Stallard said. “I guess the beauty of kayaking is that it’s a beginner’s sport. So you can kind of teach it to anybody.

It is also an inclusive sport.

“When I started doing this, there weren’t too many women fishing in kayaks,” explains Angelini-Luciano. “There are challenges with everything you do. Whether you are a woman, a man, just overcome them and do what you want to do. I love doing this.

And they both love the opportunity to represent New York.

You can follow throughout the season by heading to the KFL website for live matches.

Robert A. Glidden